My personal goal for this internship was to deepen my understanding of the struggle for racial justice in the United States, which I have achieved. During my internship, I conducted in-depth research on several important events in the Civil Rights Movement, such as the Freedom Rides, Nashville Student Movement, and the March on Washington. When I looked at the pictures of the Freedom Riders being beaten by the white supremacists, I not only learned history, but also sympathized with the Riders. In the meantime, I found that history is always repeating itself. Recently during the pandemic, Asian Americans were randomly attacked on the street — like the Freedom Riders, they did nothing but were beaten because they had the “wrong” skin color in society.
My academic goal, enhancing my understanding of the Cold War, was also fulfilled by researching the international influence of the Civil Rights Movement. I conducted research on China in order to find how the Chinese government published the Civil Rights Movement. I also discovered that Chairman Mao, the most influential figure in early China, once met with civil rights leader Robert F. Williams and offered his support for the Movement. Through the encounter of this special relationship between Chinese government and the Movement, I also learned international relations from a unique perspective. In terms of my career goal, this internship overall helped me comprehend American history more deeply, and how legislative changes were made under the pressure of civil rights movements; although my research actually reveals how slow legislative changes could be.
(Photo description: Chairman Mao signed Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong “the Little Red Book” for Robert Williams on the national day of People’s Republic of China in 1966. CR: Wikipedia)
For students who would like to apply for a research assistant internship, particularly in humanities, the first thing is to learn basic research skills. Those skills could be how to use Brandeis OneSearch, using the Brandeis library database to search for useful websites, how to get access to the books in the library, or how to submit a request for a book that is not possessed by Brandeis library. Although your UWS instructors have taught you that, it is important to remember those seemingly “useless” skills. Next, you should be familiar with the basic search engines on each website; they all look familiar and have the same techniques. You should grasp the key words of your question and find other specific information about the topic that could limit the search. For example, when I am looking for primary sources for a historical event, I often frame the publishing date to several years around the time of the event. What is more, being a research assistant requires people to be meticulous. Attention to detail is necessary for many jobs, so it will not harm if you start to train yourself to be meticulous; watch every word, every space, every punctuation in your writing and be used to double-check carefully.